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2009 Law School Graduate Places Top Ten in New York Law Journal Writing Contest

May 21, 2009

Tulane Law School alum Janet McKnight (L ’09) recently was named one of ten finalists in the 8th Annual New York Law Journal (NYLJ) Fiction Writing Contest. Her short story, “The Maze,” was a product of Professor Edward Sherman’s seminar on "Jurisprudence and Literature" in which he gave students a choice of doing a standard seminar paper or a work of fiction. McKnight opted for the fictional path.

McKnight's work was influenced by one of the books covered in class, Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful, written by South African author Alan Paton. She claims she found the book to be the most interesting read of the semester.

“This book is an account of the imposition of apartheid on South Africa in the 1950’s by the minority whites, and I use it as an example of Legal Positivism, imposition of the will of the state without regard for right or morals,” Sherman explains. “[McKnight’s] story posits a fictional land where one group is supreme and imposes discrimination on the other … in the context of a boycott of a sports event.”

McKnight says that both works, Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful and “The Maze,” share similar tones of strong characters fighting to discover their place in the legal framework of their transitional countries.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment that shows the diversity of a Tulane Law School education,” said Sherman.

The top three winners were announced at a banquet in New York in late August 2008. McKnight was present and welcomed the opportunity to meet with Thomas Adcock, NYLJ Associate Editor, who runs the fiction contest.

McKnight, who passed the Louisiana State Bar in February 2009, will be traveling to Amman in June to take classes in Arabic at the University of Jordan. Last summer, while working on refugee rights in Cape Town, South Africa, her research on the subject was published in the Journal of Identity and Migration Studies. The article, “Through the Fear: A Study of Xenophobia in South Africa's Refugee System,” can be read here.

“I have quite alternative plans post-law school,” says McKnight. “It is quite daunting and future plans are uncertain, but I am hoping to find some great opportunities for international legal work once I am there.”

For more information about Projects Abroad and/or McKnight’s experience with human rights in South Africa, click here. 

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